November 28, 2021
Coronavirus

Pritzker extends deadline again for state workers to get COVID-19 shots

State workers in the three departments have until Nov. 30 to be fully inoculated if they are using Moderna or Pfizer’s two-dose vaccines.

State workers in congregate settings, such as prisons and long-term care facilities, now have until Oct. 26 to get their first COVID-19 vaccination after Gov. J.B. Pritzker extended a deadline for shots last week.

The vaccine requirements affect employees in the Veterans’ Affairs, Corrections and Juvenile Justice, and Human Services departments.

It’s the second time the deadline has been stretched. Pritzker announced an initial Oct. 4 date for vaccinations in August amid a surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the delta variant of COVID-19. He later pushed that target forward to Oct. 14.

Now, state workers in the three departments have until Nov. 30 to be fully inoculated if they are using Moderna or Pfizer’s two-dose vaccines.

So far, “we’ve reached agreements with four unions and are at the table with others,” Pritzker spokeswoman Emily Bittner said.

Unions that have settled with the state include the Illinois Nurses Association and Illinois Federation of Public Employees. The deals allowed an exemption process for medical or religious reasons.

But negotiations are still continuing with state workers represented by Teamsters Local 700 and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31.

Teamsters Local 700 President Ramon Williams has said in a statement the union thinks “COVID-19 vaccinations should remain the member’s choice.”

State officials said unvaccinated workers “pose a significant risk to individuals in Illinois’ congregate facilities.” Those who refuse to get vaccinated will face disciplinary measures that could lead to being fired.